One of the main reasons for coming to New Zealand was to attend Rhythm and Vines. So what is Rhythm or RnV? It is a three-day music festival situated on the East Coast of New Zealand and coined for having the “first sunrise of the New Year.” It has been a bucket list item for me to attend for over four years and I’m so glad to have finally checked it off my list. There were some great acts in the lineup, but let’s be honest festivals and big events like this are better with friends and I was going totally solo. If this festival was in Australia I maybe would have been able to convince some of my new friends to attend, but it was in New Zealand, a country I just entered a mere three weeks prior. That being said I was going totally solo so I decided to volunteer.
I thought volunteering would be an easy way of making friends at the festival and also give me something to do (because I cannot party 24/7). I am so glad with this decision and I had a great experience. So what does volunteering at RnV entail? Basically you work a couple of shifts to earn back the cost of your ticket (and camping if you are camping onsite). I was camping so my shifts were to make up 24 hours in the days of the festival to get the refund of almost $400NZ. The shifts mostly were made up for four 6 hour shifts of two days of doubles (working two 12 hour days). Honestly, I saw this as a win-win; I would earn the cost of my ticket back (and at the time of purchasing the campsites were already sold out and staying in the surrounding area wasn’t an option either) and it was a chance to meet new people. You could be doing anything from guiding guests, customer service, being stationed at the Artist’s house, picking up cans, doing surveys, etc. Based on my application/qualifications I was placed in customer service and eventually was engaged in logging lost property. In hindsight I had an easy job, it was out of the sun and my shifts although they started early, 8am, ended in time to not miss a thing festival-wise. I really enjoyed being helpful and using my brain/working again. The volunteering part of the festival was a complete positive. I ended up working more than my mandatory 24 hours, but I really was enjoying being helpful.
RnV is a three-day/night festival officially starting on the 29th. If you are camping and have a three-day pass you can enter the site on the 28th, which becomes a pre-party night. If you are a volunteer you can stay even earlier or later depending on your shifts, and so my camping experience started on the 27th and consisted of five nights (I actually could have stayed another night, but decided to re-enter society on the 1st and go to an Airbnb). It amazes me that I enjoyed camping as much as I did. I think the most I ever camped was for three days and that was when I was in my early teens. This was full on camping for five full nights and although it was cold at night I think I slept better in my little tent then I do in hostels.
I obviously don’t carry camping gear with me and had to go on a search on my one spare day back in Auckland for gear. I ended up getting really great deals (thank you extended boxing day sales) for a sleeping bag, tent, air mattress, and pump. I think I spent around $35 USD for all of that and that was okay with me. I ended up giving all my gear away at the end of the festival to fellow volunteers so I didn’t feel wasteful and I hope it serves them well in their future endeavors.
Now to the actual festival…again I loved it. I loved that people from all around the country, both nationals and working holiday visitors, came for the festival. It seems like the fest life is really big in NZ with multiple festivals going on back-to-back and simultaneously around both South and North Island. The majority of the crowd was a little young for my taste and I feel like in the U.S. you can more easily see the difference of above 21 and under. At RnV everyone is legal and it seemed like the attendees were skewed to the younger end of the spectrum. I didn’t make it out very late any of the action nights (28th-31st) because I had early shifts, but I did make it later and later each night.
Seeing so many artists in one set of time was totally overwhelming. My favorites included: Ziggy Alberts, Disclosure, Sachi (omg they were so good – I may become a super fan), Culture Shock, Dave Dobbyn, Mako Road, Drax Project, Theia, Leisure, and Dom Dolla. Also, Alice Wonderland, Jauz, and Wilkinson were fantastic at keeping the party/energy going. I truly loved the whole experience, but it is a bit (no a lot) exhausting. I can’t wait for my next festival, but I will take comfort in small luxuries like actual showers/running water, beds, and microwaves until then.